Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu take Steve Rogers into Wakanda in Captain America #3. Black Panther joins the global hunt for whoever is behind the Duke army.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
Captain America #3 gives us Steve doing some undercover work to see how this Hydra-America has affected some of the more forgotten regions of the country. Having Cap go through these moments of doubt and confusion are more and more compelling each issue.
With a lot of us feeling a lot of tension and anger for things out of our control (no matter what your politics may be), to have Captain America go through something similar right now is powerful. Cap is always the “dad” of our favorite heroes, the boy scout who always knows the best course of action at any given moment. Coates is humanizing him in a way that hasn’t been done in a long time.
Ta-Nehisi Coates giving Steve a wider scope and perspective is intriguing. It’s a useful way to weaponize a way of thinking in today’s world–one where we look at things from both sides. Of all the comic book responses to the current political climate, this may be the sharpest so far.
Honestly, despite what the “Comicsgate” community will tell you, there’s no better character than Captain America for this job. To be able to sift through a world of weaponized opinions and digital venom and be able to come out the other side having found something to learn from it–that’s Steve Rogers.
It’s also not over-bearing or what this comic book even focuses on, Coates does a great balancing act and doesn’t waste his opportunity by playing it safe.
Captain America #3 is the most similar to Coates’ Black Panther so far. There’s a good amount of action in the book but most of the fireworks happen in the quieter moments. The message and strength of the book comes across between the panels almost.
Even the main conflict with the army of Duke soldiers is less about the punching scenes and more about what it means to Steve. The fight that’s most compelling is the one Rogers is having with himself in his head.
Steve doesn’t come right out and say what he’s feeling every page, the reader is given his situation and told to find where their own hearts lie. There’s a lot of weight wearing Rogers down and he’s struggling to sort it out. The way this is presented, without needing to spell everything out, is some really solid comic book crafting.
The story is book-ended by some Sharon Carter action. She flips the script on some would-be abductors in the opening before the cliffhanger ending in which we see a likely source for de-aging Agent 13 back to her younger self.
We’re seeing Leinil Francis Yu get more comfortable with Captain America each issue. What he lacks in classic shield-throwing Cap action, he more than makes up for in the acting of his characters. I found myself obsessed with the eyes of the driver that Sharon knocks out in the opening bit.
Inker Gerry Alanguilan provides heavy inks, adding to the weight of this issue. It’s not as dark as Secret Empire, but definitely harkens back to the dark cloud atmosphere that made that event pack a harder punch.
Colorist Sonny Gho does a wonderful job conserving the use of yellow close to Duke’s blond hair, saving it for when Cap is facing these enemies. This helps keep all the red, white and blue on both Cap and the various Duke faces from getting washed together during the action. There’s a certain tint of blue to most of this issue as well that’s just satisfying on a Captain America book.
Comic veteran Joe Caramagna does a fine job with lettering duties, as per usual. The shade of blue behind Cap’s dialogue doesn’t clash with any of the various other blues on display. As always, the cover art by Alex Ross is superb. This may be one of the more creative Captain America designs by Grandmaster Ross.
There’s a lot of subtlety to appreciate in Captain America #3. Ta-Nehisi Coates isn’t wasting the opportunity to do something special and different with the character. This isn’t going to be an explosive action extravaganza every issue, but it won’t be a comic you forget too easily. Coates and Yu will make you think about what Steve is going through long after you finish the final page.